Jun 232007

Irish steel-cut oats

I’ve always been a breakfast person. Not really in the way that many other Americans are, where they like lots of bagels and cereals and other really unhealthy and non-nutritious foods, but more in the way that I like to get something healthy in my tummy that will stick with me until my mid-morning snack. This is sufficiently different, versatile, receptive to substitutions, and, of course, yummy, to meet all of my needs. They do take longer to cook than their gloppy rolled cousin, so I cook a week’s worth at a time and reheat as I need it. Nowadays it’s impossible to open my fridge without finding a massive batch of these oats, just waiting for their turn to be consumed.

And just look at them! It’s easy to see why!

Oatmeal with pomegranate seeds

Indulgent Irish oatmeal with berries
A Jitterbean original
Serves 8


  • If you are making a large batch to eat throughout the week, refrigerate after the oats are done cooking. Add the additional toppings after the oats have been re-heated immediately before eating.

You will need:

  • 2 cups steel cut or Irish oats (a brand like McCanns or Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 6 cups water
  • 1/8-1/4 cup buttermilk and/or almond-milk and/or soy-milk, plus more to taste (regular milk will work too but the others are much more complementary with oats)
  • 1-2 teaspoons nutmeg and/or cinnamon, plus more for dusting to taste
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped and toasted
  • 2 cups fruit: fresh or frozen berries, pomegranate seeds, or dried cranberries, etc.

To prepare:

  1. In a large skillet or saute pan, toast the oats on medium-low heat until fragrant and golden but not burned, stirring or shaking often. If using a skillet, transfer to a large saucepan.
  2. Add six cups of water (or about 1/2 cup less if you like your oats thicker) and boil, covered, for about 15 minutes. Stir every couple of minutes.
  3. When oats are only slightly thickened, add buttermilk by pouring it twice around in a circle around the circumference of a pan (if this is unclear, see photo of buttermilk swirl above), about 1/8 to 1/4 cup. Add 1-2 teaspoons of nutmeg or cinnamon, stir, and cover.
  4. Cook until oats reach desired thickness, about 10 minutes more. I have found that the remaining cooking time is highly dependent on brand of oats used, so watch the pot closely.
  5. When done, serve into individual bowls. One serving will be about 3/4 cup. Add additional nutmeg or cinnamon and buttermilk, almond-milk, or soy-milk and top with berries and toasted pecans. Serve immediately.

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